Pictures of the Year judging kicks off next week

A panel of judges as diverse as the entries submitted to the 76th annual Pictures of the Year competition will soon pore over about 40,000 images from photojournalists around the world.

The judging of the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism competition will take place Feb. 11 through March 1 at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This year’s competition is broken into four divisions — news, sports, reportage and multimedia  — that consist of almost 40 categories including U.S. midterm elections, immigration status and the Olympic Winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea. There are a total of 16 judges.

Included among the 16 judges are:

  • Tim Matsui, a photojournalist and independent nonfiction filmmaker who has reported for Frontline, The New York Times and the Council on Foreign Relations (multimedia);
  • Pablo Corral Vega, an Ecuadorian photojournalist who has had his work published in National Geographic, The New York Times and Smithsonian (reportage);
  • Kathy Willens of The Associated Press, who has covered six Olympic Games and 10 NFL Super Bowls, as well as the World Series, NBA Finals and NCAA Final Four games (sports);
  • and Jahi Chiwendiu of The Washington Post, who reported on stories in Iraq, Kenya, Darfur and South Lebanon (news).

“Having someone who has a different background that is more representative of the people we cover in the news can help bring insight to the students and also the people watching the content,” says Lynden Steele, POY director.

POY recruits the help of Missouri School of Journalism students who help read captions to provide judges with more context, read the “in” or “out” commands, assist with audio needs and engage with the public on social media.

Viewing the competition

Judging is open. People can watch in person in Tucker Forum in Gannett Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism. Folks can also tune into Facebook Live.  The livestream will be monitored and viewers are encouraged to submit questions or comments. There will also be times when the judges are available for discussions, says Steele.

This year’s judging schedule is:

  • News – Feb. 11-15
  • Sports – Feb. 16-18
  • Reportage – Feb. 20-23
  • Multimedia – Feb. 25-March 1

Rising Star Scholarship winner

Rosem Morton
Rosem Morton

Among those watching this year’s competition will be Rising Star Scholarship recipient Rosem Morton, a self-taught documentary journalist from Baltimore.

POY launched the scholarship to provide a working visual journalist of color, who has five or less years of professional experience to see “the best of the industry” and hear the judges’ debates. She will observe three days of the reportage division.

Morton developed an interest in photography while attending nursing school. Now a full-time nurse, she says she often feels disconnected from the photo community and is looking forward to the opportunity “to become more involved in and connected with the photography field.”

“I am very excited to be part of this experience and am hoping to soak in all of the amazing work and learn as much as I can,” she says. “I am looking forward to connecting with people in the community and learning about their work and journeys.”

“She’s self-taught and has already created a strong portfolio of intimate images, so the [scholarship] judges felt that not only does she have strong work, a great aesthetic, but also here’s someone who can really benefit from this experience,” adds Steele.

For more information about POY, visit

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